Badminton Life

Badminton: Malaysia Need Fresh Faces To Succeed Ageing Players

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 (Bernama) -- After 18 years of waiting for a Thomas Cup glory, and ended up with more waiting after a heart-breaking defeat in the ongoing championship here, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) should now take a bold step and thrust younger players to the forefront in place of an ageing line up.

Obviously Malaysia cannot depend forever on Datuk Lee Chong Wei, aged 28, Wong Choong Hann, 33, and Muhd Hafiz Hashim, 28.

With the exception of Choong Hann, who has said that this would be his last Thomas Cup, can Malaysia continue to depend on Chong Wei and Muhd Hafiz, who would be 30 in the 2012 Thomas Cup?

The very decision to include Choong Hann -- who made his sixth appearance in the tournament -- shows the dire situation Malaysia is in: that the country severely lack singles players of high calibre.

Singles chief coach Rashid Sidek said he was aware that age was catching up on national shuttlers, especially singles players.

"We have no choice but to develop the younger players, and to develop them fast, to fill the void in the main line up," he said.

Choong Hann himself said he wanted to see new players in the line up because Malaysia could not continue to rely on "old horses."

Malaysia do have several players who have shown potentials and ability to compete in high-level tournament.

Loh Wei Sheng, Zulfadli Zulkifli, Mohd Syawal Ismail, Misbun Ramdhan Misbun, Liew Darren, Chong Wei Feng and Mohd Arif Latiff are among some of them who can be polished to take over from the seniors.

In the doubles, the pair of Ow Yao Han-Yew Hong Kheng emerges to be among the most promising following their victory in the World Junior Badminton in Guadalajara, Mexico last month.

Ironically, almost all of these players are aged 18 -- having been born in the year Malaysia tasted the Thomas Cup glory -- and on their way to reaching their primes if only they had the opportunity to compete in high-level tournaments.

Malaysia started their 2010 Thomas Cup campaign by winning 5-0 after their Group B opponents Nigeria failed to show up due to flight problems.

In the tussle for the top group finisher, favourite Malaysia lost 2-3 to Japan.

Chong Wei won 21-12, 21-13 against Kenichi Tago while top doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong beat Noriyasu Hirata-Hirokatsu Hashimoto 21-13, 21-17.

However, Choong Hann lost 17-21, 18-21 to Sho Sasaki, Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif lost 15-21, 12-21 to Kenichi Hayakawa-Kenta Kazuno and 2003 All England champion Muhd Hafiz Hashim went down to Shoji Sato 10-21, 21-14, 18-21.

In the semi-final clash against Denmark, Malaysia were struggling all the way before scrapping through with a 3-2 score.

Chong Wei beat Peter Hoeg Gade 21-17, 21-17, Koo-Tan triumphed over Carsten Mogensen-Mathias Boe 21-17, 21-19 but Choong Hann lost 20-22, 21-16, 18-21 to Jan O Jorgensen while Mohd Zakry-Hoon Tien How went down to 2010 All England champion Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen 26-24, 12-21, 19-21.

It was fortunate that Muhd Hafiz was in his element and beat Joachim Persson 21-12, 21-10 to set Malaysia's semi-final clash against China.

Alas, Chong Wei lost to bogeyman Lin Dan 17-21, 8-21, Koo-Tan to Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng 15-21, 10-21 and Choong Hann to Chen Jin 16-21, 7-21.

The rest is history and the waiting continues.

Source from BERNAMA

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